Odisha seeks Centre's help to tackle floods

Odisha seeks Centre's help to tackle floods

The Odisha government on Wednesday requested the Centre to keep a few choppers ready for rescue and relief operations as the flood situation remained grim in several districts in the state for the second consecutive day.

Official letters in this regard have already been sent to the Union home and defence ministries. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also had a telephonic discussion with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

“We may need a few helicopters for rescue and relief operations. Therefore, we have already sent letters to the Centre to keep the choppers ready”, the special relief commissioner (SRC), Pradipta Mohapatra said. 

He said, the state administration had already started evacuating people from the flood-hit areas since last two days and a whopping 1.39 lakh people had already been evacuated to safer places by Wednesday evening. The process will go on. 

“It is an ongoing process. People will be evacuated immediately whenever the flood water enters a village,” the SRC said, adding that as many as 184 boats were currently engaged in the evacuation drive.

So far, the floods in major rivers like Mahanadi, Baitarani, Budhabalanga and Subarnarekha as well as their branch rivers have affected 9,94,000 people in different districts. The floods and rain related death toll in the state went up to 27 by Wednesday evening from 23 on Tuesday. The toll is expected to rise further.

Mohapatra said the flood situation is expected to worsen as the water flow in Mahanadi, the biggest river in the state, is yet to peak.  Nearly ten lakh cusecs of flood water was flowing in the Mahanadi river system at the time of writing this story. 

It is expected to go up to 12 lakh cusecs by Wednesday night. The water level in Mahanadi has already crossed the danger mark at several points. 

The flow of flood water in the major river has gone up after the authorities of the Hirakud dam in western Odisha’s Sambalpur district decided to open majority of its gates following heavy rain in the upper catchment areas of the river, both in Odisha as well as in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. 

As many as 50 gates of the Hirakud reservoir had been kept opened by Wednesday evening. The authorities were contemplating to open more gates to release the flood water.

“There has been heavy inflow of water into the reservoir. We are in the middle of monsoon season. We have to keep some space in the dam for the next rounds of rain. Therefore, we decided to release the water,” a senior official in the water resources department said. 

The water level in the important dam on Mahanadi had gone up to 628.5 feet by Wednesday afternoon. The dam authorities were trying to bring it down to 625 feet. The maximum capacity of the reservoir is 630 feet. 

The flood waters of Mahanadi and branch rivers have already entered villages in districts like Sambalpur, Sonepur, Boudh, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Puri, Jajpur, Nayagarh and Jagatsinghpur. “We are expecting more areas to be inundated by Wednesday night”, said the SRC. However, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, the flood situation in the state was under control. 

“The officers are working hard to handle the situation,” he said after chairing a high level review meeting.

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